Pulitzer Prize For WWII Stories About Blood Donations To Be Displayed at Stanford Blood Center

May 18, 2011
Attention News Desk: Press Release (for immediate release)
Brooke Wilson (650) 723-8270

STANFORD, Calif. — As a blood donor himself, Jack McDowell often wondered about where the donated blood ended up. As a newspaper reporter in World War II, he got to find out.

In December 1944, McDowell was working for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin and traveled across the Pacific with a shipment of blood for wounded soldiers. The result was a series of articles that received the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Reporting.

Local residents will have the opportunity to view the Pulitzer and the original newspapers containing his stories — on loan from McDowell’s daughter, Judy McDowell — during the week following Memorial Day at the Stanford Blood Center.

The items will be on display at the blood center’s location at 3373 Hillview Ave. in Palo Alto from May 31-June 3.

McDowell’s journey began on Jones Street in San Francisco where he and several others donated blood. One person he met was a young donor named Chelsea O’Brien who agreed to let McDowell publish her name as part of his experiment in philanthropic journalism. He got to know a little about her during her donation: she had given blood three times previously, had just moved to San Francisco from Boston and was a teletype operator for the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co.

Then McDowell and the units of blood flew via the Navy Air Transport Service into the Pacific Theater. There, he met the recipient of O’Brien’s blood: Painter 2nd Class Willie R. Boyter, who had been injured in an explosion. McDowell wrote:

“As the Navy doctors rigged tubing from the bottle of Miss O’Brien’s blood to Boyter’s arm, I sat beside his cot. He turned a pair of brave blue eyes toward me and asked if I knew the donor. ‘I saw her at the blood center in San Francisco a couple of days ago,’ I told him.”

The blood center arranged to host the nostalgic items during a time of both reflection and need; Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer holiday season, which is typically one of the most difficult times to find blood donors because campuses are empty and summer travel is in full swing.

“Visiting our WWII/Pulitzer exhibit would be a great way to reflect on the significance of Memorial Day, show appreciation and also help replenish the blood supply after the holiday closure,” said communications manager Brooke Wilson. Center locations and mobile operations will be closed May 30 in observance of Memorial Day; the items will be on display the remainder of that week.

Donors should be in good health with no cold or flu symptoms. They must eat well prior to donation, drink fluids and present photo identification at the time of donation. The process takes about an hour. For more information or to schedule an appointment online, please call (888) 723-7831 or visit smstaging.stanford.edu/bloodcenter.

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The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation’s top medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service. For more news about the school, please visit http://mednews.stanford.edu. The medical school is part of Stanford Medicine, which includes Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. For information about all three, please visit http://stanfordmedicine.org/about/news.html.

Stanford Blood Center was created at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1978 to meet the complex transfusion needs of Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, as well as provide tailored blood products and clinical trial services for school researchers. Today the center provides blood products to eight local hospitals and is a recognized leader in the field of transfusion medicine. More information is available at http://bloodcenter.stanford.edu.